an overseas move can be so exciting that it is often hard to focus on the dreary
matter of money – but a few smart decisions and some simple planning could save
Before you go
do anything, think about how much it is going to cost to disentangle yourself
from your current financial obligations. Do you need to exit a mobile phone or
cable TV contract, cancel direct debits, wriggle out of a gym membership or
defer a magazine subscription? Add up those costs and set them aside in the
“never-seeing-that-money-again” column of your budget.
a long, hard look at your belongings. Now is the perfect opportunity to shed
unwanted gifts and ill-conceived purchases; you do not want to be carting them
across the world and paying for the privilege. Shipping the contents of an
average two- or three-bedroom home from the London, England, to Toronto, Canada,
will cost in the order of £4,500 – so taking less will have a very tangible
impact on your budget. Also remember that moving costs will depend on whether
you choose sea freight, air freight or ground transportation. A useful resource
to find and compare movers worldwide is Intlmovers.
are in clear-out mode, consider some key facts about your new abode. What is the
weather like there? Do you really need your winter woollies? Similarly, what is
the electrical system of your new
country and will it support your existing appliances? If you know the
actual house you are moving into, get a copy of the floor plan – with
dimensions – so you can see which pieces of your furniture will or will not fit.
How much is
a cup of coffee or a beer in your new country? Find the answer to that question
at global price comparison site wopri.com, and
you will have a decent gauge to start building the needed day-to-day budget.
big challenge will be getting a visa. Even if you are being sponsored by a
company or an individual, you could be liable for the cost of an immigration
lawyer. These can be expensive; in the US, expect to pay upwards of $5,000 in attorney’s
fees for visa processing, and the cost of the
visa itself usually ranges from $200 to $400.
The next priority
is to get your finances in order. You will need a bank account in your new country
and you will probably want to hang onto your existing one, too. But you might
find it difficult to set up a new account until you have suitable personal
identification in your new destination (such as a job or rental contract or social
security number in the US), so make sure you have a decent credit card with zero
foreign transaction fees to get you through the first few weeks. Alternatively, speak to your current bank
about setting up an international
account. Most of the big banks offer these, and they allow you to access
your money wherever and whenever you need it.
A little more
complicated is the issue of transferring money to your new home. The more money
involved, the greater the issue, since money transfers are subject to the
vagaries of currency fluctuation. Forget about foreign exchange bureaus unless
you are talking about small change – the exchange rates are poor. Your bank
will likely give you a better rate, but beware transfer costs and commission
fees. If you are transferring anything over £5,000, look for a deal that
exempts you from fees.
amounts of money can be transferred via PayPal, which does not require a
minimum transfer amount, although transactions do incur a charge, currently set
at 3.9%. For transferring money to or from the UK, Moneysupermarket.com lists the best
transfer companies and deals. Also be aware that there may be a “receiving fee”
from your new financial institution.
money, your concern will be less with transfer fees and more with exchange
rates. In this case, it makes sense to use a foreign exchange broker or
understand the detail yourself by using a comparison site such as FX Compared.
If you have
more advanced financial needs, such as managing an investment portfolio or an
ongoing requirement to pay tax in dual locations, seek out the services of a
financial planner for bespoke advice.
are planning to rent or buy your home, consider employing the services of a professional
who can advise you on the neighbourhoods that best meet your needs and can also
research properties, advise on rental or property values, attend inspections, submit
applications or bid at auctions on your behalf. Some relocation companies will
do everything, from moving the cat to finding a nanny to redirecting your mail.
Try NYC Navigator, London Relocation or Resettlement Services Australia, although
most major cities have companies with similar services.
If you are planning
to rent, your initial outlay is likely to be a security deposit and at least one
month’s rent. However, in more competitive rental markets (such as New York
City or Melbourne) you might need to budget more, especially if you do not have
any local references.
The cost of
buying property will be
highly dependent on the destination, but nonetheless you should budget for the
usual additional expenses involved, including legal fees, taxes and insurance.
If you need a mortgage to finance your purchase, seek out the services of an
overseas mortgage advisor such as Homesgofast.com,
which can help you re-mortgage your current home, take out a new loan in your
current country or borrow abroad.
As well as
buying new furniture, you will also need to budget for utilities – gas, water,
electricity and phone, as well as cable TV and wireless internet. And do not forget
about car, home and health insurance. Some countries have much better public
health systems than others and it is important to understand what is on offer in
order to make the right provisions for you and your family. An excellent
resource is the World Health Organization’s World Health Report 2000 which ranks
the world’s health systems on five key criteria relating to services. Top of
the list? France. Bottom of the list? Burma.
will likely have schooling high on their list of priorities. Consider whether
or not education
is free – in most places this will not be a problem, although there are
surprising inconsistencies in what free education means.
Germany, for instance, provides free education to children for their entire
schooling period, while Switzerland offers eight years of elementary education.
Also consider whether the education on offer is of a standard that meets your
expectations. If not, and depending on the location, you might want to consider
international schooling, which provides mother tongue (usually English) education
for foreign nationals based on an international curriculum. Families with
younger children should research the options for pre-school and childcare, and
factor these into the budget.
When you get there
wheels have finally touched down on your tarmac of choice, it is time to start
re-establishing some of the things you dismantled earlier. Doubtless you will still
want the gym membership and magazine subscription. And
since you will be in a new place you might want to set aside a bit of cash for
social activities, perhaps joining a group or attending a course.
aside an “exploration budget”, which will allow you free, unfettered access to
your wallet for a few days while you orient yourself in your new place of
residence and see what it has to offer.